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The inland water fishes of Africa

Didier Paugy
Christian Levêque
Olga Otero

Fish communities in estuaries and lagoons

Jean-Jacques Albaret


Estuaries and lagoons, along with mangroves and maritime marshes, occupy a considerable area along the coast of the African continent. Often subjected to strong marine influence, both in terms of their physical structure and their bio-ecological functioning, lagoon and estuarine environmental systems (abbreviated later as LEE) are nonetheless generally attached to the field of continental waters. In fact, the diversity of situations makes it difficult, if not impossible, to classify them as either marine or continental, and the term “interface environment” perfectly captures their nature and environmental functioning.

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Dufour et al. (1994) point out that the plethora of definitions proposed to express the concept of “lagoon” indicates that there are no universally-accepted criteria for differentiating them from bays, estuaries, coastal marshes, and other parts of the coastal landscape (Mee, 1978). According to the outline proposed by Davies (1973), there is a continuum within the broad category of estuarine environments (figure 22.1). One end of the spectrum contains lagoons of marine origin (wave action), sheltered behind a sedimentary belt formed by relatively large-sized particles (sand). On the other end of the spectrum can be found deltas, resulting from the action of rivers rather than marine activity, and characterized by the small size of sedimentary particles (silt). Between these two, there are different types of environments that display a mix and a gradation of the two extremes of coastal environments. A large number of type classifications of lagoon and estuarine environme...

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